Robert Manfred - Hank Aaron Invitational

MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred joined dozens of Black high school and college players in August 2019 at the Hank Aaron Invitational, which incorporates improving baseball and business skills. In a bold move, Manfred moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of Georgia’s recently passed discriminatory voting laws.

I am happy I was wrong.

After boldly declaring last week that Major League Baseball did not have the gumption to act against Jim Crow-style new voting laws in Georgia by moving the 2021 All-Star Game, Commissioner Robert Manfred did just that.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred’s official statement read.

“Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

My plea was for L.A. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Black and Latino players with All-Star credentials to boycott the game.

Manfred ‘saw me and called me’ and then gloriously took the whole pot.

Even more disturbing to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and other conservatives is that Manfred sought guidance from the Players Alliance, a group of Black players formed in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer.

Manfred said his decision is “the best way to demonstrate our value as a sport.”

Naturally, there is right-wing backlash. So what.

Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and other members of Atlanta’s corporate community voiced displeasure once the bill was signed into law on March 25. This came after more than 70 Black business owners called on the city and nation’s most powerful businesses to act.

AS ESPN columnist Howard Bryant wrote, Atlanta’s international business leaders should not “be viewed as morally heroic, for during the weeks leading up to the vote, Georgia's powerful business class remained mostly silent.”

“They let the bill happen, and are trying, much too late, to reposition themselves against the negativity.”

The relocation of the All-Star Game will hurt Black hotel workers, cab / Uber / Lyft drivers and other who stood against the bill and / or will be affected by it.

Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight Action and a former Georgia House minority leader, wrote in a USA TODAY commentary, “Instead of a boycott, I strongly urge other events and productions to do business in Georgia and speak out against our law and similar proposals in other states. Bring your business to Georgia and, if you’re already here, stay and fight. Stay and vote.”

Newly elected Democratic Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock wanted the All-Star Game in Atlanta, as well.

The Atlanta Braves played the “victim” card.

Our city has always been known as a uniter in divided times and we will miss the opportunity to address issues that are important to our community.

“Unfortunately, businesses, employees and fans in Georgia are victims of this decision.”

It was not an easy call for Manfred, but it is absolutely the right call.

Texas and Arizona could be the next states to pass similar voting bill packages.

MLB will have its hand tested again.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has not commented on MLB’s action. Hopefully, he has already had a private conversation with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

What if hosting a future Super Bowl were at risk for Dallas and Houston? The same for the Phoenix area? 

Missouri’s Republican legislators have a super majority and could pass laws like Georgia’s.

What respective stances will the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals take?

It is time for the NCAA to voice its opinion. It moved events from North Carolina after a horrendous anti-transgender bathroom bill was passed.

St. Louis has hosted numerous NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament games, hockey’s Frozen Four, wrestling and gymnastics championships. Future events could be put in jeopardy.

Again, the time to get tough with legislators is now, not after race-based voting laws are enacted.

The Reid Roundup

The All-Star Game is heading to Coors Field in Denver, and also the MLB Draft…the late Hank Aaron will still be honored during All-Star festivities…Among the cities that lobbied to host the game was Milwaukee – where Aaron’s big-league career began and ended…Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch wrote last Saturday that “(as of Friday night April 2) the Cardinals had not been approached about St. Louis being a possible site for the Midsummer Classic or even explored the idea of doing so.”…MLB’s support of local communities in the Atlanta area through its All-Star Legacy Projects will not be withdrawn.

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